Amelia’s Magazine | Soma celebrates 10 Years: an interview with founder Fiona Hamilton

Soma Gallery - 10th anniversary prints

Like Amelia’s Magazine, the fabulous Bristol based Soma Gallery launched in 2004. Founder Fiona Hamilton was a big supporter and stocked Amelia’s Magazine in print from the very outset. Since then we have kept in touch and Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration visited Soma Gallery on tour back in 2011. I caught up with Fiona to talk about ten years of working with emerging and established artists. Read on for more and to view all ten of the wonderful prints featured in the 10th anniversary celebration show and box set.

Soma Gallery - spencer wilson
Print by Spencer Wilson, available here.

How did Soma begin, and how has it changed over the years? Can you give us a short potted history…
Soma started way back in June 2004 and opened with an exhibition by Anthony Burrill, Jon Burgerman, Richard May, Container and Dettmer Otto. The original idea was to exhibit work by a mixture of illustrators and graphic designers alongside ceramics, jewellery and textiles. In that respect, things haven’t changed all that much in the last 10 years! We started off in a small single room space in Clifton Arcade and in 2010 moved to a much larger space on two floors over the road. We are now able to have larger exhibitions in a separate gallery space and we’ve also been able to hold events like book signings and a Tatty Devine jewellery making workshop in this space. We’re currently in the process of installing a small print workshop in a small room at the back of the shop.

Soma Gallery - peskimo
Print by Peskimo, available here.

Soma Gallery - Graham Carter
Print by Graham Carter, available here.

How did you pick the artists who have contributed to your 10th anniversary collection of limited edition prints?
It was very hard to choose just 10 artists. Some of the artists we have chosen have worked with Soma since the early days including Adam Bridgland and Lucy Gough who both exhibited in our second exhibition in 2004 and have continued working with us. Alice Pattullo is one of our newest artists and joined us before Christmas last year. Hazel Nicholls joined us for Pick Me Up graphic art fair in 2013 and has continued to work with us ever since. Andy Smith, Peskimo, Gemma Correll and Crispin Finn have also exhibited with us at Pick Me Up as well as many solo and group exhibitions in our gallery. Graham Carter and Spencer Wilson are both original founding Peepshow (illustration collective) members and have been with us for a long time!

Soma Gallery - gemma correll
Print by Gemma Correll, available here.

Out of the 10th anniversary collection can you recommend your top tip: for a child’s room? for a new boyfriend? and for a mother in law?
The perfect print for a child’s room would be either Peskimo’s ‘Flying Saucers’ (which glows in the dark!) or Spencer Wilson’s ‘Bring the Noise’. For a new boyfriend, Crispin Finn’s ‘Double High 5’ or perhaps Graham Carter’s ‘Oh James!’. A good mother in law print would be HelloMarine’s ‘Jungle’ print.

Soma Gallery - crispin finn
Print by Crispin Finn, available here.

Which other artists are amongst your favourites at the moment?
Tom Frost and Nicholas John Frith are other artists I would have loved to have been part of the 10. Both were unfortunately too busy to take part, Tom was working towards his solo show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park which opened just after the prints were launched. There will be other projects in the future, I’m sure!

Soma Gallery - hellomarine
Print by HelloMarine, available here.

Soma Gallery - hazel nicholls
Print by Hazel Nicholls, available here.

What are the biggest trends (that you have spotted) in prints in 2014?
We don’t tend to follow trends here at Soma, but something I have noticed is that tropical plants, birds of paradise and very bright colours are very much on trend. One thing about not being led by trends too much is that we hope people will treasure our prints for years to come and so for that reason don’t want anything that might date too quickly. Bright colours are definitely something we fully embrace at Soma though!

Soma Gallery - andy smith
Print by Andy Smith, available here.

Which artists should we look out for in the coming years?
I think it’s worth keeping an eye on Alice Pattullo and Hazel Nicholls. And maybe the next young artist who joins us!

Soma Gallery - Alice Pattulo
Print by Alice Pattullo, available here.

What do you love most about producing prints and selling specialist designer goods?
One of the nicest things is working directly with the artists and building good relationships with them. We work with a great bunch and it’s a pleasure selling their prints and goods.

Soma Gallery - adam bridgeland and lucy gough
Print by Adam Bridgeland and Lucy Gough, available here.

What have been the high points and low points of the past ten years?
There have been some great high points. The most memorable are moving to the larger space in 2010 and exhibiting in Pick Me Up for the first time in 2012. Andy Smith’s solo exhibition, ‘Sunny Side Up’ in 2011 was a huge success. Our 10th anniversary print project and event was also quite a high! The low points are thankfully few, but the long hours and how hard you have to work as a small creative business can feel quite thankless at times. But in the end it’s all worth it!

Each print is 30 x 40cm to fit in a standard size frame. They are available as singles at £30 each or as a boxed set of all 10 at £275. All prints are printed on GF Smith Colorplan or Mohawk Superfine.

Categories ,10 Years, ,10th Anniversary, ,Adam Bridgland, ,Alice Pattullo, ,Andy Smith, ,Anthony Burrill, ,Bristo, ,Clifton Arcade, ,Container, ,Crispin Finn, ,Dettmer Otto, ,Fiona Hamilton, ,GF Smith Colorplan, ,Graham Carter, ,Hazel Nicholls, ,HelloMarine, ,Jon Burgerman, ,Lucy Gough, ,Mohawk Superfine, ,Nicholas John Frith, ,Peepshow, ,Peskimo, ,Pick Me Up, ,Richard May, ,Soma Gallery, ,Spencer Wilson, ,Tatty Devine, ,Tom Frost

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Justin Hammond, Curator of the The Catlin Guide and Catlin Art Prize

A highly collectible work of art in itself, The Catlin Guide for 2012 is the premiere place to discover the best new graduate artists from across the UK. We decided to quiz curator Justin Hammond on the history of The Catlin Guide. Read on to find out more!

You are about to launch the 2012 edition of The Catlin Guide at the London Art Fair, between the 18th – 22nd of January at the Business Design Centre in Islington. What can people expect?
Due to the financial implications of most art fairs, galleries tend to pack out their stands with large and expensive statement pieces. So I’m going to do the opposite and curate a show of small scale drawings, photography and works on paper. I’ve asked artists like Gabriella BoydTom Howse to make very small paintings. I’m showing eleven artists from the Guide – a real mixture – and for most of them it’s the first time they’ve shown in that kind of environment. We’ll also be giving away copies of The Catlin Guide, of course.

Dark Green Fritillery on Wildlife Attracting Mix, installation by Alison Stolwood

You’ve picked 40 graduates for inclusion in the guide: what criteria determines who you pick, and what are you looking for?
Potential is the key criteria. I’m looking for artists with the ability and desire to progress and really make their mark in the art world over a prolonged period. Ultimately, I choose the final 40 artists but a big part of the initial long-list is made up of recommendations from course tutors, curators, collectors, gallerists, artists, critics and bloggers.

Rowena Hughes, twofold interleaf
Twofold Interleaf by Rowena Hughes.

What is your background?
I studied Art History in Manchester in the early 90′s, but didn’t open my first space in Hackney until 2005. Along with my brother, I ran MLIA in Broadway Market for a couple of years showing new grads and generally making it up as we went along. That was when I decided to start the prize and Catlin came on board as the sponsors almost immediately. The first year was held at the now defunct Ada Street Gallery with a first prize of £1000.

Portrait of the artist on vacation and the door opening for a Byronic Hero by Hannah Harkes.

How do you support the up and coming artists that you choose, so that their career gets off to the best start it can?
The Catlin Guide functions as an index; a bang-up-to-date ‘who’s who’ of the new wave in contemporary art, and that’s a great platform. If the Guide can help to facilitate exhibition opportunities or encourage interest from galleries and collectors, then I see it as a success. Last year, the winner of the Catlin Art Prize was awarded £5,000, whileCatlin bought work by participating artists and commissioned two new pieces for their collection, so there’s financial support too.

Catlin Art Prize 2008 at LSO St. Luke’s

How is The Catlin Guide related to the Catlin Art Prize, and how do they work alongside each other?
In a way, they’re quite separate. The Catlin Art Prize came first and The Catlin Guidewas initially a supplement to that and a way of documenting the shortlisting process. Now, I think The Catlin Guide has taken on its own identity and individual worth. All artists for the Prize are selected from the book, but there’s a gap of four months between publication and exhibition, so The Guide has its own lifespan.

Victoria Matkin‘s ‘Ladies in Waiting’ – Catlin Art Prize 2010 at Village Underground Victoria Matkin’s © Justin Green Photography.

What are your particular hot tips from the current batch of featured artists in the guide?
All 40 artists are in with a shout, but some are already streets ahead in terms of attention and publicity. The press will always focus on new grads from the Royal College of Art or other major schools, so I’m going to pick out Mandy Barker from De Montfort University and Hannah Harkes from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. I like the way that both artists are forging their own paths. Neither is primarily concerned with producing commercial work, but what they make is very desirable. Hannah is on a residency in Tallinn and has just sent me through a fantastic new piece called Desert Picnic Imposter. I’ll be showing it at the launch.

David Malone.

What has happened with previous artists that were featured? Have they gone onto great things, if so what?
The Catlin Guide is only three years old, but lots of artists have gone on to feature in high-profile exhibitions in the UK and abroad. Leah Capaldi and Joshua Bilton from the 2011 Guide have just finished showing as part of Bloomberg New Contemporariesand Noemie Goudal has been selected for Out of Focus: Photography, at the Saatchi Gallery in May. But I’m taking a long-term view; it’s all about what happens over the next decade or more.

Untitled byAli Kazim.

How is the guide itself produced and how do you ensure that it is a desirable object destined for collectibility?
The slipcase makes The Catlin Guide very expensive to produce but we’re not looking to make a profit or even recoup the production costs. We print a limited number so that all adds to its collectibility. The first edition has sold out and there are just a few of the 2011 edition remaining. OK, here’s the technical stuff: For the slipcase we’ve used Lockwood Green 135gsm from the GF Smith Colorplan range. The Guide itself is printed onto 170gsm Munken Polar. All the paper products are FSC certified. There are 128 pages.

Mossy Lichens by Tom Howse.

Why did you decide to print your guide with Principal Colour? Was it important to use a printer based in the UK and if so why?
Catlin came across Principal Colour and we were impressed with their green credentials. Printing abroad was not an option due to the tight deadlines. It’s imperative that the information in the Guide is as relevant as possible, so we sign off in the week leading up to Christmas and publish in mid January. Principal Colour were prepared to go in and work on The Catlin Guide over the Christmas break.

Tom Howse at work.

For information on the design of the guide and tips for how future graduates can best make an impression on curator Justin Hammond make sure you visit the rest of this blog at the Principal Colour Tumblr feed. You can check out The Catlin Guide for 2012 at the London Art Fair between the 18th – 22nd of January at the Business Design Centre.

Categories ,Ada Street Gallery, ,Alex Ball, ,Ali Kazim, ,Alison Stolwood, ,Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ,Broadway Market, ,Business Design Centre, ,Catlin Art Prize, ,David Malone, ,De Montfort University, ,Desert Picnic Imposter, ,FSC certified, ,Gabriella Boyd, ,GF Smith Colorplan, ,Gray’s School of Art, ,Hannah Harkes, ,Joshua Bilton, ,Justin Hammond, ,Leah Capaldi, ,Lockwood Green, ,London Art Fair, ,Mandy Barker, ,MLIA, ,Moje Sabz, ,Mossy Lichens, ,Munken Polar, ,Noemie Goudal, ,Out of Focus: Photography, ,Peter Saville, ,principal colour

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